If you like stories about people who enjoy popular series of books, this is a story for you. If you like stories about families bonding over books, you might read on. If you are a parent who appreciates the value of reading and a proud parent of readers, you may enjoy this.
But, if you are a meticulous keeper of neatly shelved and ordered books which are kept with the utmost of care and handling, you may want to stop now. If you cringe when someone opens one of your books for fear they may dog ear a page, please go dust off the Aa-Hi titles on your bookshelf. This story is not for you.
It all began at a book fair years ago when the three, young Hays children selected a paperback book entitled, THE BAD BEGINNING. The book is read, thoroughly enjoyed and soon book two in the series is ordered. Well, some of you may guess where this is going. The next thing the dad knows is that we own A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 thru Book 8.
Fast forward to early January 2017. The 20-something, college-graduate, working-professional, Hays kids are at the house for a family dinner. The kids and their significant others are talking about their anticipation for the new Netflix A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (Anticipation here meaning, waiting with great excitement and enthusiasm.) The talk turns from the TV series to the book series.
It is found out, with great surprise, that only one of the five young adults read the entire series—my son-in-law. Out of the old adults (me and my teacher wife), I lead the elderly set with a reading through THE AUSTERE ACADEMY, Book 5. After many joyful minutes of A Series of Unfortunate Events book talk, my eldest daughter, who is a second-grade teacher, says she wants to read all the books again before she watches the series.
Girl Twin says she recently reorganized her room and thinks she remembers them being on her bookshelf. She checks and returns with a stack of books. Books 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8. No THE REPTILE ROOM or THE ERSATZ ELEVATOR!
A mild panic ensues. Where are Book 2 and 6???!!!
A search of all the bookshelves in the house reveals nothing. The two volumes, including my favorite, THE REPTILE ROOM, are gone. Most of the immediate blame goes on Boy Twin, but after a search of his books, he is cleared. Eventually, we decide they could be anywhere. The most likely scenario is determined to be those two books probably disappeared when they were part of my wife’s middle school or 3rd-grade classrooms free-range-reading book shelves.
An unfortunate event, indeed.
Soon, we ameliorate (a word meaning to make better) the lost book situation by returning to a discussion of our favorite parts of the Baudelaire orphans’ plight and end a pleasant evening talking books and eating dinner with the family.
Lessons learned from my Unfortunate Event evening…
- You never outgrow your favorite books. They stay embedded in your heart and soul forever. Nothing can change that.
- There are books for everyone. A nonreader is a reader who just hasn’t found his niche yet. i.e. My son-in-law, who is the admitted nonreader of the whole bunch is the only one of the whole bunch who read the entire 13-book A Series of Unfortunate Events series.
- Sometimes books get lost and disappear for a reason. There are kids out there without access to books besides what they find in the library or on a teacher’s open reading shelf or a free book exchange. Sometimes a borrowed book becomes so special and important, it finds a new owner. Oh yeah, then there’s always the overzealous mother who cleans out your room (book and baseball card collection included!) the minute you move off to college.
- The Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is very good. As good as the books but in a different way. Isn’t that the way book adaptations should be?
Author’s Update – I wish I could update you with happy news of Book 2, THE REPTILE ROOM and Book 6, THE ERSATZ ELEVATOR being found, but, alas, they are still missing. In more upbeat news, Book 9, THE CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL, turned up this week in a search and nobody remembers buying it.